Sometimes I get horribly lonely here. Mostly it hits in the mornings - I'll think, if I never even get out of bed today, who will notice or care?, and What's the point if moving away from home if everywhere I go, no matter how cool, my loneliness comes with me?
But then I realize that I'm not really alone, not ever - and it's not because I live in a warm fuzzy awareness of the Divine presence or something, because let's be honest, I'm not that spiritual. It is because I am deeply, humblingly aware of how much help I have had to get even this far in life, how much support and unconditional love it takes to get me through every singe day, up to and including this one. Even though they aren't with me, I walk all day with my family.
I think of my father before I even open my eyes in the morning, when I can hear my roommates moving around, getting ready for work. I never realized how comforting the sound of his hard-soled work shoes, only half-trying to be quiet in our wood-floored halls, was to hear every morning.
I think of my mother when I get up to do my morning exercises, because at 7am I know she has already beaten me by two hours, and probably looked fierce doing it. As for me, I yawn helplessly until my coffee's finished brewing - and am reminded of my oldest brother, who's hopelessly dependent on that morning caffeine now - and grimace as my joints pop like a dozen little firecrackers, a gift from my mother, as she got them from hers.
I think of my sisters when I see the miserable weather outside and completely disregard it because I already know that I want to wear open-toed heels and short sleeves, and common sense isn't about to talk me out of my fashion decisions.
I am reminded very much of my grandfather when I make my morning oatmeal (which both of us dislike, but I eat anyway for the warmth), and of my other grandfather when I nod to the policeman on the corner as I head to the bus stop.
I am, I am sure, one with generations of women in my family when I raise my eyebrows at the middle schooler groping his girlfriend on the bus. The look on my face makes him blush, hard, and drop his hands. (Deep down, I can sympathize, because Lord knows I've gotten this evil eye a hundred times myself.)
I am with my uncles, I think, when I think ambitiously of all I'm going to do and see, once I've saved enough travel money, and with my favorite aunts when I push past the fear of failure and contrary expectations to follow my dreams.
Every chatty child in the grocery store is a sibling, or a cousin, because if there's a distinctive factor about the children in my family, it's that they'll talk to anyone, everyone, about anything, without ceasing or need for breath. If they all decided to go into politics, they might rule the world.
Every welcoming smile at church puts me back in my church family again; even if the names and faces are different, the love is the same.
At the end of the day, when I know I should be sleeping, I'm reading instead, sharing my grandma's voracious literary appetite and mercilessly nocturnal habits.
I am a sister when I hold a baby,
a daughter when I walk home at night,
a cousin in patience,
a niece in ambition,
a granddaughter in humility,
and my own woman most when I am all of these, and rejoice in the fact that I am not my own at all.